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Matt Bush: “at that point, my life was over”

May 5, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

Matt Bush mugshot

Fox’s Gabe Kapler visited the Florida prison which is home to Matt Bush, the one time number one overall pick in the MLB draft. And, maybe, the guy who did more to throw away a baseball career than anyone in living memory.

Bush, as you may recall, is in prison for running a man down while driving drunk. It was the last of a series of alcohol-related incidents which all but ended Bush’s baseball career before his final accident ultimately did.

Bush is not the biggest victim in this by any stretch of the imagination, but listening to him is still pretty emotionally affecting. You want to feel bad for him then you want to kill him then you want to pity him then you want to hate him and at some point you want to feel bad for him again. Such is the tragedy of addiction and bad choices and horrific outcomes.

Kudos to Kapler for going to see his former teammate and giving us an unvarnished look at him, the promise the threw away and many lives he ruined.

  1. spezzdispenser - May 5, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    I don’t feel sorry for him at all

    • drewsylvania - May 5, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      At some level, I feel sorry for anyone.

      • whatacrocker - May 5, 2014 at 1:12 PM


        +! for Godwin’s Law!

      • bolweevils2 - May 5, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        Well, you could say even Hitler must have suffered something horrific in his life somewhere, or been born with some depravity, to get him to the point where he turned out like that and presumably that was beyond his control. Maybe if he grew up in the Brady Bunch of Austria and had an altogether happy life, he would have been a nice, normal, pleasant guy that you wouldn’t have minded as your next door neighbor, who knows?

      • js20011041 - May 5, 2014 at 5:21 PM

        Maybe Hitler was just a dick. At what point do a person’s crimes go so far beyond any excuses of abuse, mistreatment, or mental disease? Some people are just evil. There need be no sympathy for them.

  2. djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    I have been around drug addicts my entire life. Family members, friends, co-workers. Some of them know it, some deny it. Some have died, some have cleaned up, some have switched from one drug to another and some have gone to jail. I don’t have any respect for drug addicts. They are weak for getting into it in the first place. Unless they change their paths (without the help of “God”–another drug) then I have no respect for them.

    • clydeserra - May 5, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      You seem nice.

    • noochieleon - May 5, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Why don’t we put the makers of alcohol(a drug) into prison as accessories to the DUI offenses?

      • hockeyflow33 - May 5, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        Because people are allowed to make their own decisions in life.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 5, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      I don’t have any respect for drug addicts. They are weak for getting into it in the first place.

      Alcoholism is a disease, but it’s the only one you can get yelled at for having. Goddamn it Otto, you are an alcoholic! Goddamn it Otto, you have Lupus! One of those two doesn’t sound right.
      -Mitch Hedberg (RIP)

      • drewsylvania - May 5, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        He forgot to mention mental illness–which is likely on djandujar’s s**t list as well.

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        If you are on Twitter, please advise Bill Baer that alcoholism is a disease.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 5, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        I am, but what did I miss from Bill? Last things I’ve seen him get involved in is the fight over rapist Josh Leuke, go Phillies boo [insert opposing team], and a fight with Moshe. Nothing about alcoholism…

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        He and I had a little go ’round about that some time back. He rejects the notion of alcoholism as a disease.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 5, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        He rejects the notion of alcoholism as a disease.

        “The great thing about science is, it’s true whether you believe in it or not”

        Neil degrasse Tyson

    • Wesley Clark - May 5, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      That is a really harsh and sweeping generalization. Everyone is different and everyone has different obstacles to overcome in life. Drug addiction is a real problem, whether or not you have any respect for the addicts. You are trying to oversimplify a large problem by making it black and white. Life is full of grey areas that you can either fill with hate and disdain or you can step back, take a breath and fill it with compassion and reason. I am not a religious person myself, but disparaging someone who is trying to do the right thing by asking for the help of a supreme being (no matter what religion you are) seems counter productive.

      • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        I never said anything about hating addicts. I said I don’t have respect. Those are two different things.

      • Wesley Clark - May 5, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        I wasn’t implying that you hated addicts (although I can see how that could be inferred. Poorly worded on my part). I just feel that in life nothing is as simple as it seems. We all make choices, right and wrong, good and bad. To judge a whole group of people, addicts in this case, with a broad brush of no respect really leaves out a lot of their personal stories.

      • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        Wesley Clark, in case you didn’t see it, I have also admitted to bad word choices. See a few items down where I discuss these things. Your words on this page seem more civil than some of these other folks. There’s not much I can do other than admit my bad wording. Others (not you) seem intent on hate. It just shows what kind of people we are dealing with here.

    • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      More clarification a few threads down.

    • indaburg - May 5, 2014 at 6:55 PM

      Your original statement does sound rather harsh, but putting it into perpespective with your other comments, I understand what you’re saying. I have empathy for drug addicts or any person with a disease, but as a health professional, I admit to sometimes becoming judgmental towards people who don’t manage their disease, any disease, adequately when given the resources and education to do so. I can’t help people that won’t meet me halfway. At the same time, drug and alcohol addiction is a unique disease in that part of the nature of the disease is to deny you have it in the first place. I feel for you too though. It sounds like you’ve had a rough go of things in your personal life.

      I don’t begrudge people who replace one addiction for an addiction to God. While they become pious and kind of annoying, no one has ever mugged me at an ATM to fund their God addiction.

  3. fnc111 - May 5, 2014 at 11:38 AM


    No need to bring your dumb atheist views into this subject.

    • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Go to hell.

      • jm91rs - May 5, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        But do you believe in hell?

      • renaado - May 5, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Probably in to the “12 Dimensional theory” thing.

        Note: (probably has two interpretations for it).
        Universal and the Consciousness of the human mind.

      • aresachaela - May 5, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        Stop making things seriously complicated Ren.

    • Kevin S. - May 5, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      djandujar is being a tool, but you don’t even want to get started on which side of theism/atheism is “dumb.”

      • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 12:55 PM

        A tool for what? Because my father has been a narcotics addict his whole life? Many of my family members are in jail for narcotics-related crimes. I lost several friends and relatives to teenage heroin addiction. And it’s almost like members of my own family expected me to travel the same road. I KNOW the effect it has on other people’s lives. It doesn’t mean I have to respect these people for what they choose to do. And it is a choice.
        I have spoken my opinion and it seems to rub people the wrong way. Well, that is their problem.
        What am I a tool for? You said it, so maybe you should explain your position dude.

      • Kevin S. - May 5, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        Your sweeping generalizations about all addicts. For many, it is a disease they were predisposed to for any number of reasons. For others, it started out as a choice and became a disease. Yes, there are addicts who have nobody to blame but themselves, but your sweeping condemnations of everybody who has lost themselves to drugs shows a shocking lack of understanding of the situations of anybody outside your immediate circle.

      • Kevin S. - May 5, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        Which is not to excuse addicts when their actions are destructive – as with anybody suffering from a disease, it is on them to maintain their support network and get the treatment they need so as not to harm themselves or others, but you’re blaming addicts simply for being addicts with no consideration to biology or circumstance.

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        No offense, but you kinda did the same thing when you suggested that one or the other side of the religion debate is dumb.

      • Kevin S. - May 5, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        None taken, but when your best argument is “I accept the facts aren’t there but believe in my deity anyway” you don’t get to call the other side dumb.

      • Kevin S. - May 5, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        And since fnc started in with the “dumb atheists” it’s not like I’m coming out of left field here. While it’s easy to miss, djandujar’s crutch comments are specifically about how the twelve-step programs require submitting to a higher power, not just belief in a higher power. They’re distinct.

      • Kevin S. - May 5, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        Boo triple-posting, but that was an impersonal “you,” not specifically referring to any one person in my post at 1:44.

      • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 2:30 PM

        Well, you know. I guess I could have worded things differently. Too late to change that.
        It’s not like I’m the only person on this blog who has made a “sweeping” statement. Actually, I see way too much of it.
        Really, I’m not a bad guy. And I don’t mean to imply that addicts are bad people either. I just don’t have respect for them. It’s really as simple as that. Others are throwing around words like “hate”. Not me. I don’t hate any people. I just don’t waste my time with addicts. You know how many times I have lent money, lent a hand, lent an ear…only to see the same cycles over and over again. Simply, I am done with helping out people in my family who won’t own up to their problems. It doesn’t mean I hate them. It just means I withdraw my support. I can only speak from my experiences. If people want to get on my case for making a “sweeping” statement, then the best I can offer is that my words were badly chosen.
        Maybe some of the people here ought to show the empathy that they speak of. We are all human. It doesn’t offend me that people call me names. I have thicker skin than that. I just like people to articulate themselves instead of calling each other stupid names. Many people at this site have done it. I probably have too somewhere.
        There. Whoever wants to hate on that can do so. I really don’t care. It’s just a baseball blog.

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        Well, since it was an impersonal “you”…

        /puts dueling pistol away, sighs

    • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      I never said I was an atheist. You did. Don’t speak for me.

      • renaado - May 5, 2014 at 1:29 PM

        “Without the help of God” you did said that in your statement correct? While it may be true you never said you were one but based on what I know atheism is the personal belief of a person that rejects the idea that a deity exist, safe to say you reject their existence of bein real. I red your statement about what happened about you man, I can truly relate to that, but I tell you I’ve been through worse… Havin family members, friends and someone you know who has gone through that can definitely affect mentally on what you can do daily but to persevere even in the hardest circumstances is what I do to minimize on the negative feelings on what you have that can affect you. I truly take back on what I said about your statement, sorry.

      • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        Replying here to renaado below, because there is no “reply” option below.

        Religion is a set of philosophical guidelines that people may choose to adhere to. My statement uses quotes (“God”) which was intended to differentiate between those who live a thoughtful and deeply spiritual life and those who simply replace one drug for another. It would be folly to believe that there aren’t “religious” people out there who use their god as a crutch to replace the other things that made them feel bad. As John Coltrane said, “I believe in all religions”. I feel no disrespect toward Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, santeros or any other person who follows their own set of standards, as long as they aren’t hurting people or lying to themselves. But I don’t have to believe that everyone propping “God” is truly spiritual. Plenty of people go to church before or after they commit a crime.
        On another note, I appreciate your gesture of apology. That shows some humility.

      • aresachaela - May 5, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        What’s ironic is that Ren’s statements weren’t even that offensive. Complicated as hell yes, but definitely not offensive.

      • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        I was not offended. I just thought it was nice that renaado offered an apology. Shows that he/she is a decent person.

  4. papacrick - May 5, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    Since he was selected before Verlander, is this the baseball equivalent of the Michael Jordan-Sam Bowie draft? Surprised there hasn’t been more ink spilled on this considering the countless draft stories littered across the internet that are rehashed and glamorized year after year around draft time. Maybe it’s because baseball’s draft pool is so large and it doesn’t get the hype and recognition of the other major sports leagues.

    • clydeserra - May 5, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      Oh, thank god for that. I cannot think of a world where Justin Verlander has been on the yankees since 2010.

    • gothapotamus90210 - May 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Not exactly. The Padres didn’t want to spend the $ on a college player – beyond the signing bonus, there was the impetus of signing a college draftee to an MLB contract before the rule change.

      The Padres signed Bush for $3.15M. Verlander got a signing bonus of $3.12M, with a minimum contract value of $4.5M

    • zzalapski - May 5, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      Bowie had four seasons in which he was relatively healthy and productive, and managed to stick around the NBA long enough to earn over $15 million. He also seems to have a fulfilling retirement, free of notable incidents involving the police.

      Obviously, Portland should’ve taken Jordan, and Bowie’s career didn’t turn out like many had envisioned, but comparing Bowie to Bush is a bit insulting to the former on multiple levels.

      • moseskkim - May 5, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        not to mention verlander AINT no jordan. jordan is arguably the goat of the NBA whereas verlander is just an excellent pitcher of his time.

    • schlom - May 5, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      As has probably been pointed out numerous times the Padres were never going to draft Verlander. Their top two that year were Scott Boras clients Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver. Not quite at the level of Verlander but obviously a huge mistake to go cheap and take local product Matt Bush (who was a consensus top 10 pick, just not the overall #1 talent).

  5. pinkfloydprism - May 5, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    Why would anyone feel badly for a person that brought this upon themselves?

    • johnnysoda - May 5, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Yeah, I’m sure they think their lives are just full of chocolate and roses. And, of course, they have no interest in stopping, ever.

  6. jm91rs - May 5, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    It sounds like Bush owns his problems, which is the best you can hope for at this point. I know admitting you have a problem is a hard part of it, just from the few quotes in the story it sounds like he admits it, regrets it, and owns it. Best of luck to him trying to make some good out it by becoming an example for others to follow.

  7. renaado - May 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Kapler is a heaven sent for Matt, awesome to see he still has a teamate who cares about him.

  8. Liam - May 5, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    The video of Matt Bush crying as the cops arrested him after a relapse, that caused a confusing mix of emotions.

  9. danrizzle - May 5, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Horrible things happen and people do horrible things. It is distressing to me, however, that very often, people who commit those actions are written off entirely and forever. I do not think it diminishes the pain of any victim or the crime itself to continue to see the perpetrator as a human being. On the contrary, part of being human is having the ability to empathize somewhat with someone like Bush while at the same time knowing that he is being justly punished.

  10. tfbuckfutter - May 5, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Has anyone noticed just how many really… Let’s go with “troubled” guys have run through the Rays system in the last few years? Bush, Hamilton, Leuke, Dukes, Nash, Delmon Young….

    Why is this never discussed?

    • spol85 - May 5, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      …Escobar, Lugo, Canseco, Josh Sale…and I believe they still have more drug suspensions over the last few years than any other organization.

    • drewsylvania - May 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      And the Rays traded for several of these guys. Lueke included.

    • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      If you were charitable, you would say Tampa Bay is where you go for second chances.

      • indaburg - May 5, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        You could say that for the entire state of Florida.

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 8:47 PM

        That makes it sound nice.

    • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      Don’t forget Dewon Brazleton.

  11. [citation needed] fka COPO - May 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    And, maybe, the guy who did more to throw away a baseball career than anyone in living memory.

    As mentioned above, Bush at #1 was a huge overdraft by all prospect mavens. I’d say Brien Taylor did far more to damage his career than Bush did.

    • unlost1 - May 5, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      At least Taylor gets out of jail this year.

  12. RoyHobbs39 - May 5, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    On sort of a side note, I am sort of enjoying Kapler’s work post-playing career. I enjoy seeing him on Fox Sports every now and then. (That may be the key – do not fall prey to overexposure.)

    • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      And I appreciate the work that Kapler and his wife have done to educate people about domestic violence.

      • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        It’s interesting that someone would actually thumbs-down a statement supporting education about domestic violence. What person would do that?

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        That’s not about the topic — that’s some juvenile type that goes through thumbing down people s/he doesn’t like. I get them all the time for totally innocuous statements. Consider it a badge of honor.

  13. Old Gator - May 5, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I understand that alcoholism, like any addiction, has a biochemical component, and most likely a hereditary component, that makes it difficult to surmount. Even so, given the people he has harmed, and how badly he has harmed them, I think in this particular case that I’ll save my pity for someone who deserves it.

    • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      How does one know, though, if in a particular case one deserves pity?

      • happytwinsfan - May 5, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        Not being able to keep oneself from drinking deserves empathy, but choosing to drive while drunk doesn’t.

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        I’m not sure I agree. I think there is a good deal of difference between pity and judgment. We can hold them accountable for bad behavior and still have empathy, no?

      • happytwinsfan - May 5, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        Holding some one accountable for choices they make which harm others is the very definition of being “judgmental” (at least for me) and when justified for the sake of those hamed it’s a moral imperative to be so. But that doesn’t include considering that person to be a morally lesser being.

        We probably agree but use these words in a different way. If we discuss the meaning of “pity” we might wind up having to deal with an Ayn Rand disciple.

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        I think we probably agree. I think you can have pity and judge simultaneously. It’s hard not to reduce pity to emotion, though. Often, we only use it based on how we feel about a person, which makes me wonder how we determine who “deserves” it — and seems a very bad measure to me. I believe that holding people accountable is actually very merciful.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 5, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        Holding some one accountable for choices they make which harm others is the very definition of being “judgmental” (at least for me) and when justified for the sake of those hamed it’s a moral imperative to be so. But that doesn’t include considering that person to be a morally lesser being.

        I’m confused. How is holding someone accountable for their actions being judgmental? Isn’t that how we separate adults from children?

      • happytwinsfan - May 5, 2014 at 2:35 PM


        I think we’re all a little confused about when, if, and how to judge, and that’s probably a good thing.

        I mean it in the sense that we might “judge” that someone has willfully chosen to commit an act which has harmed others and it is therefore necessary to punish that person in a way which deters future occurrences or at least impose some condition which will prevent a re occurrence.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 5, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        I think we’re all a little confused about when, if, and how to judge, and that’s probably a good thing.

        Maybe it’s a choice of wording, but I think there’s a difference between judging a person’s actions and have them be accountable for said actions. Determining whether a person’s action(s) is right or wrong is a judgment, but holding someone responsible isn’t.

        Matt Bush almost killed a man because of his (in)decision to drink and drive. He should be held responsible for that action. What happens because of that outcome is up for debate though. To me, the former (responsibility) isn’t.

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        Well, in a legal sense, it was certainly “wrong.” The thing I was interested in here is the emotion we attach to the words “pity” and “judgment.” I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with passing moral judgments or any role that deserving has to do with having pity for — beyond our feelings on it (making it irrational).

    • btilghman - May 5, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Pity is a renewable resource, so you don’t really need to save it. You can pity someone for the choices they made, without excusing, or even necessarily forgiving, them.

  14. nsstlfan - May 5, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    djandujar…. If you are not an atheist what are you. You have showed your views on God so go ahead and clear the air.

    • djandujar - May 5, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      See the original thread above. Maybe that will help clear it up for you.
      It’s really none of anybody’s business what my chosen religion, if any, is.

  15. djpostl - May 5, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    No pity. No sympathy.

    He can rot in jail and then in hell.

  16. mikhelb - May 5, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Against alcoholism is what I would love MLB to make a stance… but they prefer not to mention it knowing very well one of MLBs biggest stars has an alcohol problem and has abused his wife/partner more than once.

  17. grnngold - May 5, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    All he had to do was call a cab or a friend. I’ll never understand how someone can drive under the influence when they know the consequences.

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